Decarbonization: Position, Worries, and Policy Alternatives for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage


What GAO Discovered

Numerous technologies for carbon seize, utilization, and storage (CCUS) are all set for wider demonstration or deployment, but several difficulties restrict their use. Carbon capture incorporates technologies that independent and purify carbon dioxide (CO2) from a source, which could be an industrial facility (point-source capture) or the ambiance (direct air capture). Programs of capture technologies at issue resources are experienced in some sectors (e.g., natural fuel processing) but need further demonstration in some of the greatest-emitting sectors (e.g., energy technology). Immediate air seize is not as experienced, but has been carried out at pilot scale. Lengthy time to deployment and higher prices hinder popular deployment of equally sorts of carbon capture in the around expression.

Systems for transporting, storing, and straight utilizing captured CO2 are experienced. Businesses are starting to commercialize utilization systems that transform captured CO2 into beneficial solutions these kinds of as ethanol, sustainable aviation gasoline, and mineral aggregates. However, many CO2-based mostly products are not competitive with standard merchandise, may be excluded from the market by market criteria, and deficiency a standardized strategy for making sure they proficiently cut down CO2 emissions.

Components of carbon capture, utilization, and storage

GAO determined 3 features of CCUS deployment where issues may possibly arise:

  • Value. Deploying CCUS is an added expense to doing company but at present delivers few prospects to crank out income. Incentives this kind of as federal tax credits help offset the large expense of CCUS for some but not all emitters.
  • Infrastructure improvement. Far more widespread deployment of CCUS would involve a construct-out of infrastructure for each of its factors, which includes transportation and storage. Timing of advancement, negotiating land access, and proximity of services are all troubles impacting this make-out.
  • Group engagement. Deploying CCUS projects depends on acceptance by and effective engagement with community communities. In the earlier, unsuccessful group engagement and local opposition have contributed to cancellation or relocation of some CCUS initiatives, though some others have been properly been given.

GAO identified 7 plan choices that could enable deal with these issues or enhance the positive aspects of CCUS technologies. The plan possibilities are probable steps by policymakers, which may perhaps incorporate Congress, federal organizations, state and local governments, tutorial and investigation establishments, and marketplace. In addition, policymakers could pick to retain the status quo, whereby they would not choose more motion beyond current endeavours. See down below for specifics of the coverage solutions and selected opportunities and criteria.

Coverage selections to enable tackle problems or improve added benefits of CCUS systems, with chosen options and concerns

Plan Possibility Possibilities Criteria

Investigation, progress, and demonstration (report p. 20)


Policymakers could enhance assistance for reliable funding of exploration and progress and huge-scale demonstrations simultaneously.

  • Investigate and development could lower expense, resolve troubles, mitigate threats, and advance rising technologies.
  • Demonstrations could cut down price tag and establish the viability of carbon capture by advertising and marketing learning-by-executing.
  • Stakeholders have distinctive tips for investigation and enhancement priorities.
  • Needs careful oversight of big-scale demonstrations.

Technologies-neutral requirements (report p. 34)


Policymakers could persuade the generation, adoption, or use of technologies-neutral standards.

  • Could incentivize the development or use of merchandise with the very best CO2 gains. 
  • Could incentivize manufacture in the U.S.
  • Requirements growth is a resource-intense and lengthy process.
  • Could be tough to review CO2 added benefits of different merchandise without the need of standardized lifestyle cycle evaluation.

Standardized existence cycle evaluation pointers (report p. 34)


Policymakers could assistance the development and use of standardized existence cycle evaluation guidelines to validate CO2 positive aspects of CO2-dependent products.

  • Could make improvements to precision of comparisons involving a variety of CO2 utilization pathways or products.
  • Specifications progress and everyday living cycle assessment are source-intense and lengthy procedures.
  • Coordination of several stakeholders to set up standardized life cycle assessment rules may well be difficult.

Framework for land access (report p. 44)

Policymakers could help enhancement of authorized or regulatory frameworks to control geologic storage of CO2 at the condition amount.

  • Lawful or regulatory clarity could facilitate deployment of CO2 storage infrastructure.
  • Pore-place unitization processes could decrease the time and charge of negotiating land entry for storage.  
  • Unique landowners may perhaps oppose getting rid of specific property rights due to pore-room unitization.
  • CO2 storage tasks could cross point out boundaries, requiring coordination.

Strategic siting (report p. 44)

Policymakers could aid strategic siting of CCUS services.

  • Could lower fiscal and logistical barriers to CCUS growth.
  • Carbon capture and utilization industries may speed up deployment if entry to infrastructure raises.
  • Sure geographic locations that are inherently a lot more suited for CCUS could reward extra than other people from infrastructure investments.
  • Some communities may possibly not want CCUS infrastructure for various reasons, which includes perceptions of environmental and safety risks.

Modify incentives (report p. 55)


Policymakers could modify present incentives to aid obtain for CCUS tasks.

  • Could raise the range or varieties of amenities that deploy CCUS.
  • Could incentivize new technology growth to reduce expenses of capture.
  • Modifying tax credits could minimize authorities tax revenues or raise use of fossil fuels.
  • Modifying industry-primarily based techniques could be matter to uncertainty in carbon selling prices.

Community engagement (report p. 62)


Policymakers could assist and motivate proactive group engagement all over CCUS deployment.

  • Much better comprehension of community opinion could guide community engagement and decision-building.
  • Could build neighborhood support and reduce delays.
  • Perfectly-made schooling and general public consciousness campaigns could be resource-intense.
  • May perhaps need new funding or reallocation of current sources to assistance new efforts.

Source: GAO.  |  GAO-22-105274

Why GAO Did This Analyze

In 2021, CO2 arrived at a history significant focus in the Earth’s environment for the contemporary period. Scientific assessments have demonstrated that decreasing CO2 emissions could assist mitigate the negative outcomes of weather alter. CCUS is 1 tool accessible to assist gradual, stop, or most likely reverse the growing amounts of CO2 in the environment.

This report discusses (1) the status of obtainable carbon seize systems (2) alternatives for employing or storing captured CO2 (3) vital challenges that could have an affect on the enhancement, demonstration, and deployment of CCUS systems and (4) possibilities policymakers could contemplate to aid tackle these worries.

In conducting this evaluation, GAO interviewed federal officials, tutorial scientists, industry companies, personal firms, nongovernmental businesses, know-how testing facilities, and federal advisory committees In conducting this assessment, GAO interviewed federal officials, educational researchers, market organizations, personal organizations, nongovernmental corporations, technology testing centers, and federal advisory committees convened an interdisciplinary meeting of 27 authorities with assistance from the Countrywide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Drugs and reviewed suitable literature. GAO is pinpointing policy possibilities in this report.

For a lot more facts, make contact with Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or [email protected].

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